Wright odd man out in Collins' new rotation

slideshow-012913-sixers-wright-collins-uspresswire.jpg

Wright odd man out in Collins' new rotation

For now, Sixers head coach Doug Collins has found a rotation that he is going to stick with.

That means that barely two weeks after he took a DNP-CD in a seven-point victory over the Rockets and was deemed out of the rotation by the coach, Nick Young will continue to start for the Sixers.

The next trick for Collins is to “build a bench.”

“We started out with a different group and now we’re trying to create a bench,” Collins explained following Tuesday’s practice at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. “We’ve had Jason Richardson in and out and [Nick Young] was out for a while and Jrue (Holiday) was out for a while. Now we’re going with a starting lineup that gets us off to better starts and two of our offensive guys are starting and we have a defensive bench. I have to make sure I have enough scoring on the floor when [I go to the bench].”

Young started the last two games, scoring 20 points in a blowout victory over the Knicks and 13 in a loss against the Grizzlies. Meanwhile, since being benched and removed from the rotation, Young has averaged 14.7 points in six games while shooting 45.1 percent from the field and 35.5 percent from three-point range.

With Richardson expected to miss his fifth straight game with an injured left knee on Wednesday, Collins has decided to use his bench for defense.

In other words, expect Damien Wilkins and Royal Ivey to continue to log minutes off the bench, along with Lavoy Allen and Kwame Brown coming on to spell Spencer Hawes and Thad Young in the frontcourt.

The player on the outside looking in for all of this? Dorell Wright.

“I’ve just gone to a different starting lineup,” Collins said. “The guys I’m bringing off the bench, I’m going to a little bit more of a defensive mindset.”

It’s been an up-and-down year for Wright to say the least. He did not see action in either of the last two games and played a combined 25 minutes in the three games prior to that. However, Wright was invaluable at the start of the season for Collins, who used the veteran as a starter when Richardson missed some games with a sprained ankle.

Wright buried a three-pointer in the first eight games and in 10 of the first 11. He averaged nearly 13 points and nearly 30 minutes of playing time through the first seven games of the season.

And then Wright was on a Yo-yo between the middle and the fringe of the rotation. Still, despite sporadic playing time, Wright scored 20-plus in back-to-back games in December during the trips to Dallas and Houston. He also scored a season-high 28 points on 11 shots in a victory on Dec. 26 in Memphis.

But since the calendar flipped to 2013, Wright has averaged 5.9 points in his last 11 appearances, though he has shot the three-pointer reasonably well at 34.3 percent (12 for 35).

The situation with Wright bears watching. Acquired in an offseason trade with Golden State, Wright has one of those coveted expiring contracts that could make him trade bait as the Feb. 21 deadline approaches.

To get daily updates on the Sixers, sign up for the team newsletter here.

Best of NBA: Rockets overcome Russell Westbrook's 7th straight triple-double

Best of NBA: Rockets overcome Russell Westbrook's 7th straight triple-double

OKLAHOMA CITY -- James Harden scored 21 points, and the Houston Rockets overcame Russell Westbrook's seventh consecutive triple-double to beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 102-99 on Friday night.

Harden also had 12 assists and nine rebounds to help the Rockets win their fifth straight. Houston withstood Harden's 6-for-23 shooting effort.

Westbrook finished with 27 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. He has the longest triple-double streak since Michael Jordan had seven straight in 1989. The most in a row is nine by Philadelphia's Wilt Chamberlain in March 1968.

It was Westbrook's 12th triple-double this season and the 49th of his career. He is the NBA's active leader in the category and ranks sixth all-time.

The Thunder had won the previous six games during Westbrook's triple-double binge (see full story).

James moves into 9th on scoring list as Cavs top Heat
CLEVELAND -- LeBron James scored 27 points to move into ninth place on the NBA scoring list, and the Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the Miami Heat 114-84 on Friday night.

James passed Elvin Hayes on a driving layup with 6:58 remaining and has 27,315 career points. The four-time MVP was removed about a minute later and received a loud ovation from the Cleveland crowd.

Kevin Love, a game-time decision because of back spasms, scored a team-high 28 points and had 15 rebounds for the Cavaliers. He missed the morning shootaround but was in the lineup after warming up on the court about an hour before tip-off.

Kyrie Irving added 23 points for the Cavs, who have won three straight after losing three in a row.

Derrick Williams scored 17 points to lead the short-handed Heat, who have lost four straight (see full story). 

Schroder has career-high 33, Hawks rally past Bucks
MILWAUKEE -- Dennis Schroder scored a career-high 33 points and the Atlanta Hawks rallied from 20 down in the second half to defeat the Milwaukee Bucks 114-110 on Friday night.

Paul Millsap had 23 points and 14 rebounds for Atlanta. Tim Hardaway Jr. scored 18.

The Hawks, who ended a seven-game losing streak Wednesday with a win over Miami, trailed by 20 at halftime. A 40-point third quarter put them back in the game.

Jabari Parker scored 27 for Milwaukee. Giannis Antetokounmpo, in foul trouble throughout the game, had 14.

Atlanta pulled ahead 105-103 on Kyle Korver's jumper with 3:15 remaining, giving the Hawks their first lead since early in the game (see full story). 

Joel Embiid 'shoots the ball with the touch of like Steph Curry'

Joel Embiid 'shoots the ball with the touch of like Steph Curry'

NEW ORLEANS -- Of all the players Joel Embiid could be compared to, a similarity between a 7-foot-2, 270-something-pound center and a 6-foot-3, 190-pound point guard wouldn’t seem like a match.

That’s exactly what Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry sees, however, when looking at Embiid and reigning MVP Steph Curry.

“He’s different than anybody that’s been in this league in a long, long time,” Gentry said Thursday before the Sixers win over the Pelicans. “He’s a tremendous talent, he really is. I’ve never seen a guy that size, and with that kind of strength, that’s got such a soft touch. He shoots the ball with the touch of like Steph Curry. It’s so soft when it leaves his hand.”

Curry is shooting 48.9 percent from the field and 40.1 percent from three. Embiid is 45.8 percent from the floor is 44.2 percent from long range.

Embiid flashed a big smile and paused to react when hearing of Gentry’s praise. He had been feeling hard on himself after going 0 for 5 beyond the arc against the Pelicans (see story).

“Steph is probably one of the best shooters in the league right now," Embiid said. "So that compliment means a lot."